How Developing Character Can Support Young People’s Mental Health

The School Report Blog

How Developing Character Can Support Young People’s Mental Health


Amazing People Schools highlights the importance of taking a joined-up, strengths-based approach to mental health and wellbeing – every day of the year.

How to best support young people’s mental health is a subject close to the heart of all parents, carers and educators.

Whilst the understanding of some of the mental health issues our young people face has grown enormously over the past few years, there is still more work to be done to equip them with the skills, language and knowledge to enable them to define and talk openly about what is troubling them.

Parents, carers and educators realise that dealing effectively with mental health includes finding the time to nurture young people to build their confidence and resilience. So, how we can do this in a helpful way? The Amazing People Schools resources encourage young people to identify and embody the character strengths inside them to enable a confident approach to whatever life throws at them.

Character strengths – good for individual development and wellbeing

Many resources are designed to help young people understand their feelings and emotions, but it is essential that we have a joined-up approach to enable the development of the character strengths they all have inside them. To help young people understand character, it is important to nurture the key strengths, such as resilience, gratitude, optimism, courage and teamwork, and speak with the language of character to them early in their lives. Equipping them with the language to understand themselves and articulate their thoughts and feelings can be empowering and enlightening for the individual. This increased self-confidence can have a positive impact both at home and at school. Defining character goes some way in helping young people understand the range of strengths they can develop and how they can feature positively in their lives.

Taking inspiration from Amazing People

One way to do this is to explore the benefits of character through the inspirational stories of Amazing People in history, as it instantly creates a dialogue between young people and their parents, carers and teachers that can support mental health and wellbeing. For example, Frida Kahlo was bed-ridden following a traffic accident that damaged her spine. Her resilience and creativity allowed her to begin to paint. This not only supported her wellbeing, but also helped her to become one of Mexico’s most famous painters. Thomas Edison was disruptive at school, although his behaviour was a product of his hearing loss. His mother taught him at home and encouraged his curiosity and perseverance. He became America’s best-known inventor, and once said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Through Amazing People Schools, young people can begin to empathise and identify with these Amazing People and learn how character strengths played a positive and sometimes critical role in their lives. Supporting activities, such as Wellbeing Workouts and Learning Launchpads, offer the opportunity for young people to continue their development at home.

Working together – growing together

Working together, parents, carers and education providers can support young people to develop and practise character strengths every day. Defining strengths and using the language of character and exploring character strengths through wellbeing activities are good starting points in encouraging and enabling schools, families and their young people to grow together.

Daily activities that focus on developing and practising character strengths can be a fun way to support wellbeing. Gratitude is a positive strength that can be nurtured and practised daily through Wellbeing Workout activities. These include reflective tasks, such as encouraging young people to create a one-page profile about someone who has helped them. Finding reasons to be grateful helps develop a positive outlook, and reminds students that actively thanking people, verbally or in writing, can support their own ability to feel happier.

Creating an individual or class Wellbeing Workout planner is a great way for young people to think about supporting their wellbeing. Younger children can choose activities from the Wellbeing Workout sheets, whilst older ones may want to consult the Character Strengths Definitions Chart and Character and Wellbeing Chart before devising their own Wellbeing Workout planner.

Encouraging a positive mindset

Supporting wellbeing and encouraging a positive attitude and outlook on life can help young people of all ages to overcome challenges and reach their potential. This can be achieved through practical activities that encourage good lifestyle choices.

Fresh air, exercise and outdoor play help to support mental and physical wellbeing and are particularly beneficial during times of stress and anxiety. Exciting outdoor activities that take young people out of their comfort zone can build their resilience, courage and self-confidence. Parents, carers and teachers can encourage a positive mindset during challenging learning opportunities, helping to prevent young people from feeling overwhelmed.

Collaborative activities, such as team sports, offer opportunities to develop and practise adaptability and teamwork. They encourage young people to work together to achieve a common goal and offer the chance for them to deal with feelings of failure or success. Other activities could include learning a new skill, or daily tasks such as setting a time challenge or a healthy lifestyle goal. These can also build optimism which leads to better physical and mental health – it can even help you recover from illness quicker!


Empowering young people – good for all of us

Happy, confident, empowered individuals, achieved through the development of their character strengths, make for a positive, proactive person. This approach can only be impactful if young people are supported by a nurturing, safe and empathetic environment that prioritises their mental health and wellbeing. Growing together should be a daily consideration, and Amazing People Schools resources, such as Amazing People stories and Wellbeing Workouts, enable teachers, young people and their families to explore, develop and practise important character strengths in fun and inspirational ways.

Embed character education every day to support young people’s mental health and wellbeing with Amazing People Schools. Did you know that schools can trial all our wonderful resources for free? Ask your education provider to contact us, and we can show them how amazing Amazing People Schools really is!